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Japan in a Word



Capsule Hotel

カプセルホテル (kapuseru hoteru; capsule hotel) is a type of accommodation originating from Japan. Each 部屋 (heya; room) consists of many small pods. Often located near a station, these places are stereotyped as cheap overnight accommodation for drunk サラリーマン (sararī man; office worker) who missed the last train and couldn’t return home.

Recently, its 進化 (shinka; development) is a hot topic in Tokyo. Some カプセルホテル are furbished with attractive ファシリティ (fashiritī; facility), such as アメニティ (amenitī; amenity), コインランドリー (koin randorī; coin laundry), キッチン (kicchin; kitchen) and 女性専用フロア (josei senyō furoa; floor for women only). The small sleeping quarters are not only 便利 (benri; convenient) but are also快適 (kaiteki; comfortable).

Now you can test it for yourself at Australia’s first カプセルホテル which opened in Sydney in May 2017.



Sushi Train

回転寿司 (kaiten-zushi; rotation sushi), commonly known as sushi train in Australia, is also called くるくる寿司 (kuru kuru sushi), an onomatopoeia for “going round and round”. The very first 回転寿司 was opened in 1958 Osaka by Yoshiaki Shiraishi, who found inspiration from a conveyor belt in a ビール工場 (bīru kōjō; brewery). The affordable sushi train gained significant popularity and has become a huge industry in Japan.

回転寿司店 (kaiten zushi ten; rotation sushi shop) are partly セルフサービス (serufu-sābisu; self-service), where customers simply pick up a plate of their favourite sushi from the moving conveyor belt. However, if your desired すしネタ (sushi neta; sushi topping) doesn’t come, you can order it a la carte. さびぬき (sabi nuki; without wasabi) can also be requested. Your eyes may sparkle at the variety of sushi but remember that it is poor manners to directly touch sushi that’s still on the train, let alone return sushi you’ve already picked up.

PHP INTERFACE. 2008. Kaiten-zushi maruwakari jiten [回転ずし まるわかり事典]. Tokyo: PHP Institute.



National Parks of Japan

Japan is known for its modern cityscapes and traditional sightseeing areas, but did you know that this small country has 34 国立公園 (kokuritsukōen; National Park) and 4 世界自然遺産 (sekaisizen’isan; World Heritage sites)? Japan’s 国立公園 are designated to include privately-owned properties, allowing you to observe the 暮らし (kurashi; livelihood) of residents and the 産業 (sangyō; industries), such as agriculture and forestry.

The ビジターセンター (bijitāsentā; visitor centre) of a 国立公園is a good starting point to discover the surrounding area’s 自然 (shizen; nature) and 歴史 (rekishi; history). Their free パンフレット (panfuretto; pamphlet) contains plenty of information. You can also ask a volunteer ガイド (gaido; guide) to introduce the types of activities you can experience in nature. These include 登山 (tozan; mountain climbing), ハイキング (haiking; hiking), スキー (sukī; skiing), キャンプ (kyanpu; camping), カヌー (kanū, canoeing), シュノーケリング(shunōkeringu; snorkelling) and バードウォッチング (bādowocching; bird watching).

More information is available on the Ministry of the Environment’s website.



Rental Kimono

There are some老舗呉服店 (shinise gofuku ten; long-established shops) in Kyoto that promote their レンタル着物 (rentaru kimono; rental kimono ) service. The number of tourists who enjoy this handy service is growing year by year.

You can choose your favourite kimono from a wide range of rich 色 (iro; colours) and デザイン (dezain; designs). There is no need to worry about 着付け (kitsuke; putting on the kimono), because it’s banded in convenientセットプラン (Setto puran; set plans) which also includes帯 (obi; sash), 足袋 (tabi; toe socks), 草履 (zōri, Japanese style sandals) and バック(baggu, bag) . The outfit is available for both 女性 ( josei; women) and 男性 (dansei; men).

On your next trip, the レンタル着物 will make your dream come true — to stroll around an old town wearing a traditional Japanese outfit.

© Kyoto Tourism Council


Wabi-sabi is a Japanese philosophical concept seen in traditional Japanese arts, such as 茶道 (sadō; tea ceremony), 俳句 (haiku; a Japanese poem in 5-7-5 syllabic form) and 陶芸 (tōgei; pottery). Its meaning cannot be easily defined with language. Something that is wabi-sabi evokes an inner appreciation of its quiet simplicity and its changing form over time. For example, think back to your visit to an old and lonely temple or quiet Japanese Zen garden. Were you touched by the beauty of its simplicity?

Like the concept it represents, the meaning of the word wabi-sabi is interpreted differently in the West. Since the beginning of 2017, wabi-sabi has been trending in media in the US, becoming the latest lifestyle concept after 2016’s Danish word hygge.  In France, you can visit the WABI-SABI pavilion at the ジャパン・エキスポ (Japan Expo) in July 2017, which will introduce 伝統文化 (dentō bunka; traditional arts) of Japan. Wabi-sabi may become a universal word in the near future, used in not only Japanese culture but also the areas ofファッション (fasshion; fashion) and インテリア (interia; interior design).

© Kyoto Tourism Council

Premium Friday

プレミアムフライデー (puremiamu furaidē; Premium Friday) is a government-backed campaign aimed at boosting Japan’s consumer spending. Launched on 24 February 2017, the initiative encourages companies to let their employees leave work at 3 pm on the last Friday of each month and invites 消費者 (shōhisya; comsumers) to spend more on their “long” weekend.

小売業 (kourigyō; retailers)  and サービス業 (sābisugyō; service-sector) companies are joining the movement. For example,レストラン (resutoran; restaurants), デパート (depāto; departments stores), ホテル (hoteru; hotels), and 旅行会社 (ryokōgaisha; travel agents) have started offering special rates and discounts on Premium Friday.

The 政府 (seifu; government) is also spearheading the campaign as a part of the 働き方改革 (hatarakikata kaikaku; ”work style reform”) to reduce Japan’s long working hours. However, it will take time for プレミアムフライデー campaign to take root. Travellers to Japan should keep an eye out for good deals on the last Friday of each month.

© Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau


The word 聖地巡礼 (seichi junrei) means pilgrimage. In particular, it is 巡礼 (junrei; pilgrimage) to some kind of 聖地 (seichi; holy ground).  However, this word has also come to refer to a kind of holy ground that you may not expect.

The settings of many of Japan’s anime series and films are based on real world locations, which fans sometimes seek out and visit. This alternative 聖地巡礼 involves travelling to the ロケ地 (rokechi; location of filming) to experience a piece of one’s favourite show. Many visitors try to recreate shots from the show in their own photos.

One very recent addition is the hit movie 君の名は (kimi no na wa; Your Name), released in 2016. The film brought a large number of visitors to the regional town of 飛騨市 (hida shi; Hida), in Gifu prefecture, in addition to other locations like the stairs in the photo, a spot in Tokyo not far from 四ッ谷駅 (yotsuya eki; Yotsuya station). An older example is the animeらき☆すた (raki suta; Lucky Star). One of the main ロケ地 for this show is 鷲宮神社(washinomiya jinja; Washinomiya Shrine) in Saitama prefecture. Due to the popularity of the show, this place has now become a hub for all things Lucky Star. Even the 絵馬 (ema; wooden plaque marked with a wish) left by visitors are adorned with cute drawings from the show.

Nao Iizuka (CC BY 2.0) (Flickr)

風子戦記 @mo_om921 (Twitter)


Here’s one sure way to beat the heat this summer; head to Hokkaido! Just imagine that you’re cooling off in the winter climate, surrounded by all that 雪 (yuki; snow). While you’re there, you go racing down the slopes on your skis, churning up the 粉雪 (kona yuki; powdered snow) as you fly past, enjoying the cool air. You stop at the bottom of the hill and bend to pick up a handful of snow, watching as the fine powder trickles through your fingers. That is さらさら(sara sara), the fine texture of the powdered snow on the ski slopes.

If you’d rather slow things down, why not try building your own 雪だるま(yuki daruma; snowman)? If you head to a slightly warmer area, you’ll find ぼたん雪(botan yuki). This kind of snow is made up of larger flakes, and clumps together better than 粉雪(kona yuki). Better yet, you can 丸める(marumeru; make round) this snow into a 雪玉(yuki dama; snowball). Just be careful, or you might get caught up in a 雪合戦(yuki gassen; snowball fight)!

Miki Yoshihito, 2016 [CC BY 2.0] (Flickr)

Mark Resch, 2006 [CC BY 2.0] (Flickr)

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